Watchdog to check English exams system after A-degree leak fears

Regulators are to study the integrity of the college exam device in England after a “completely unacceptable” security breach led the Edexcel board to withdraw and replace an A-stage further maths paper over fears it had been leaked.

About 7,000 pupils are because of taking a seat the 1/3 a part of Edexcel’s further maths A-degree examination on Thursday, and whilst the exam will cross ahead as deliberate Pearson, Edexcel’s determine organization, introduced it’ll replace the paper with a new edition as a precaution.

The modern-day ability leak changed into exposed at some stage in an investigation on the equal school suspected of being the supply of an A-stage maths paper that become being presented for sale via social media final week.

“As a part of Pearson’s ongoing research of a centre into the breach of the A-degree maths paper three on records and mechanics final week, and due to the movements of this center, we have taken a decision to update the forthcoming further maths A-stage paper scheduled for this Thursday 20 June,” the company stated.

Pearson stated its investigation revealed that a sealed packet containing the further maths paper has been “opened via a man or woman” at the identical school, even though it stated it had no evidence that any questions were leaked. Schools are required to safely keep papers until right away before each examination is taken.

Ofqual, the exam regulator for England, stated it changed into “intently monitoring” Pearson’s investigation and how it deliberate to address the outcomes while awarding grades in August.

“Students, mother and father and instructors had been understandably disenchanted via the rare, irresponsible moves of 1 center which breached the security of Pearson’s maths exam taken on Friday. This is absolutely unacceptable,” Ofqual stated in a statement.

“The integrity of the examination device is based on the agree with and diligence of exams officers, teachers, college students, examination forums and their providers and social media agencies – the significant majority of whom take severely their obligations. When that belief is breached our precedence, and that of examination forums is to protect the pastimes of hardworking college students.

“We will hold to work with the examination boards to make certain the remaining exams of the summer are correctly taken. Once results are issued, we are able to overview the summer, such as this incident, and keep in mind what greater can be carried out to guard the integrity of the exam gadget.”

The breach is the modern-day example of poor protection related to misplaced or stolen papers which have plagued examination forums in latest years, with leaked papers hastily copied and allotted online.

In 2017, Pearson turned into forced to make changes to records and further natural maths A-stage papers after reports that a few students had seen questions earlier. And in 2017 and 2018 police investigations had been launched into suspected leaks concerning Edexcel’s A-level maths papers, with 29 applicants having their results annulled. The criminal investigation into the 2017 case maintains, with info forwarded to prosecutors by the police final April.

Sharon Hague, Pearson’s senior vice-president for faculties, stated the “uncommon but essential step” of replacing this week’s paper turned into to maintain self-belief within the exam gadget and ensure equity.

“Our message to college students isn’t always to fear approximately this and recognition on your revision as you generally would,” Hague stated.

In closing week’s leak, photos of questions from the A-stage maths paper were posted on Twitter, with a observe telling candidates to send a message “in case you need the next day’s A-degree maths, stats, and mechanics paper three examinations”.

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